TAMPA -- As reputations go, USF could do worse than being a team that pulls out close wins down the stretch.
For the second game in a row, the Bulls found themselves tied with less than four minutes left, and as they did Monday at Stetson, USF pulled away Friday night, getting a 9-0 run and pulling away to a 64-53 win against Georgia for a win in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
"We won so many games like that in the past. That's probably going to be a signature for us," coach Stan Heath said. "It's kind of the way we play, with our goods and our bads. Fortunately for us, we have a really good point guard who makes good choices, makes good plays ... It's probably going to be a lot of those. Unfortunately, I'm going to age doing this. It's OK. I enjoy when we win."
The biggest shot in that run was an off-balance 3-pointer to beat the shot block by Victor Rudd -- off Anthony Collins' 10th assist of the night -- that gave USF a 57-50 lead with 1:59 left. From there, the Bulls hit seven of eight free throws to close out the win before an announced 5,167 in the Sun Dome. …
Join the conversation Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m., as Times beat reporter Greg Auman blogs live from Raymond James Stadium throughout USF's season finale against Pittsburgh. Follow along, and add your comments and/or questions if you like. We look forward to hearing from you.
Greetings from the Sun Dome -- USF men's hoops facing Georgia in the SEC-Big East Challenge. We'll have updates throughout the game -- looks like this could be the Bulls debut of guard Musa Abdul-Aleem. ...
Before we get to football, tonight is a big home game for USF men's basketball, playing host to Georgia in the SEC-Big East Challenge at the Sun Dome. For our preview, we introduce 7-foot-3 freshman center Jordan Omogbehin, who has quickly established himself as a fan favorite in early cameos off the Bulls bench.
Want to talk about USF's loss at Cincinnati? This weekend's season finale against Pitt? Conference realignment? The Bulls' basketball or soccer programs? Whatever's on your mind, join Times beat reporter Greg Auman for a live chat today, starting at noon. We look forward to hearing from you.
TAMPA -- USF's seniors have their final practice as Bulls today in preparation for Saturday's home finale against Pittsburgh, and despite the frustration of eight losses in the last nine games, Skip Holtz said he's been consistently impressed by his seniors' attitudes in practice.
"I keep talking about the love I have for them because of the quality people they are, the togetherness that they have," Holtz said after Wednesday's practice. "The way they're embracing this week has really been a positive thing. It's been neat to watch and transpire from a togetherness standpoint. ... There's just a lot of hope on that football team."
Holtz said his seniors have kept the team together and positive, and his only other experience with such sustained adversity was going 0-11 on his father Lou's coaching staff at South Carolina in 1999. The next year, the Gamecocks won eight games and played in the Outback Bowl. He is hoping for a similar rebound from a young Bulls team in 2013. …
No surprise, but another domino has fallen in conference realignment, with the ACC again looting the Big East for its lineup -- Louisville was formally invited to join the league Wednesday, making it six Big East schools leaving to join the ACC.
The Big East had anticipated such a move, announcing the addition of Tulane and East Carolina on Tuesday; those two in 2014 will offset the loss of Rutgers to the Big Ten and Louisville to the ACC, where it will replace Maryland.
Louisville is a key loss for the Big East in both football and basketball, and the question now is whether this ends another round of realignment or whether the major conferences will stand down after the most recent additions. USF's best hopes for a change would be if the Big 12 -- now at just 10 teams -- seeks to expand and can lure Florida State away from the ACC, leaving that conference with a need for a Florida presence.
USF football has reached agreements to play I-AA opponents for upcoming season openers, leading off the 2014 season against Western Carolina and the 2016 season against Towson.
The Bulls have their 2013 nonconference schedule finalized, but still have two openings for 2014, including an expected home-and-home series against a BCS automatic qualifying conference opponent. USF has its next four openers signed, with McNeese State coming to Tampa in 2013 and Florida A&M returning to Raymond James Stadium in 2015.
Western Carolina (playing USF Aug. 30, 2014), which played at Alabama and lost 49-0 earlier this month, has struggled in I-AA play, going 1-10 in each of the last two seasons. The Catamounts haven't had a winning record since 2005, when they gave Cincinnati a scare before the Bearcats pulled off a 7-3 victory. Western Carolina has played one BCS-league opponent annually in recent seasons, including Florida State (69-0) in 2008 and Florida (62-0) in 2006. …
TAMPA --With each new subtraction and addition in the Big East's ongoing makeover, USF's future looks a little more like its past.
With Rutgers announcing last week it's leaving for the Big Ten and the ACC expected to raid another school shortly, the Big East did its own survival-mode expanding Monday, announcing that Tulane will join the league as an all-sports member in 2014, with East Carolina joining for football only the same year.
It's a move that insulates the league against the next round of realignment, but it gives the new Big East a deja vu feel for USF, as one of seven members from the 11-team 2004 Conference USA lineup that will be part of the Big East a decade later.
"I'm sure they are doing what they feel they need to do to create strongest Big East conference they can build," said Bulls coach Skip Holtz, who coached in Conference USA for five seasons at ECU before coming to USF in 2010. …
Here's video from Skip Holtz's weekly news conference -- nothing huge in terms of news, but he talks about Senior Day on Saturday and motivations to end a rough year on a positive note against Pittsburgh.
Here's second clip with Holtz answering questions about Saturday's game.
DeLAND -- Stan Heath took a gamble Monday night at Stetson, holding out point guard Anthony Collins with the hopes of healing the calf injury that's limited him in the first three weeks of the season.
Without their floor leader, the Bulls found themselves tied with the Hatters with less than four minutes remaining, but got a clutch 8-0 run and pulled out a 63-54 victory before a crowd of 1,063 at the Edmunds Center in their first road game of the season.
"I knew we'd a little bit out of synch, would have to fight for some baskets. I was pleased that our defense came to play," said Heath, whose players got four stops during the 8-0 run.
The Bulls (4-2) got 20 points and nine rebounds from senior Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, and a huge spark off the bench from guard Jawanza Poland, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Martino Brock, filling in for Collins, had 10 points and seven rebounds, with only two turnovers in 34 minutes; walk-on Mike McCloskey had a career-best 11 minutes running the point, with two assists and no turnovers. …
Greetings from the Edmunds Center, here in DeLand, northeast of Orlando, where USF men's basketball has its first road game of the season. The Bulls are going without point guard Anthony Collins, who is being rested to help heal a calf injury that has limited him in the Bulls' first five games. Stetson is without its top scorer and rebounder, Clearwater's Adam Pegg, after an ejection in Stetson's last game. Join us for updates and notes throughout tonight's game ...
More crazy number-crunching as we look back on college football's regular season: Which of the non-BCS automatic qualifier leagues fared best in games against BCS-league competition?
As was the case in evaluating the BCS leagues against each other, there's a wide disparity in the number of games against BCS-league teams: the MAC loves those paychecks and played 29 such games, while the WAC played just 10. First, we'll address the five non-BCS leagues as a whole -- they went 18-80 against BCS competition, which works out to winning 18.4 percent of the time.
What's most impressive, from a winning percentage standpoint, is that both the WAC (3-7, .300) and MAC (8-21, .276) fared better in nonconference games against BCS-league teams than the ACC did in going 6-17 for a .260 winning percentage. Here are the five leagues and how they fared: …
Want to talk about USF's loss at Cincinnati? This weekend's season finale against Pitt? Conference realignment? The Bulls' basketball or soccer programs? Whatever's on your mind, join Times beat reporter Greg Auman for a live chat Thursday, starting at noon. We look forward to hearing from you.
South Florida Bulls fans, you've come to the right place: the USF Sports Bulletin blog. Tampa Bay Times sportswriter Joey Knight, who covers USF, will post news and thoughts on the Bulletin, and we invite your participation in the comments area. Follow the Times' coverage of USF athletics on Twitter.